So you can see how advanced the thinking of the Poorva Mimamsakas was. The gist of all the above is that they believed that sound produced by any source is heard when the energy, travelling in the form of compressions and rarefactions hit the ear. This is similar to the concept of a mechanical wave in modern physics. We will also see the view held by various other schools.
Sankhya: The Sankhya school held that the Shrotendriya or organ of hearing (Here we do not mean the gross external ear, but the internal subtle Bhoota tanmatras that combine to form the organ of hearing). The idea behind such a concept was this. The bhoota “Akasha” or space has the quality of hearing, just as air has the sense of touch, Agni has the qualities of sound, touch and sight etc. In the theory of Panchikarana (Mixing up of the various bhootas in well-defined proportions) of the Sankhyas, depending on the nature of the organ created, the corresponding bhoota will have a dominant presence in the combination. So since the nature of akasha is of sound, akasha is the bhoota that will be predominant in the bhoota level of the organ of hearing. This may be the reason the Sankhyas posited an apparently absurd theory.
The Varna Vaada School proposes that the meaning conveyed in a sentence is the sum total of the individual letters. Simply put, the whole is the sum of its parts. Thus the basic linguistic unit as per this school is the Akshara or the phonemic syllable. As stated earlier the Poorva Mimamsaka School is the arch defender of this idea. The reason the Mimamasakas supported this theory was because they had to prove that the Vedic injunctions were the main sources of dharma. Indeed as per Manu “Vedam akhilam dharma moolam”. So to do this they had to prove
1. Words are eternal.
2. Words and their meanings are eternal. When one utters the word “Gau” in Sanskrit, one immediately connects it with the idea of a physical cow along with its qualities and attributes.
3. The meaning conveyed in a sentence is the sum total of the individual letters.
This theory can be closely connected to the Apoorva or unseen effect of various acts in a sacrifice. The Mimamsakas maintain that each step in a sacrifice results in an Apoorvata and each of these Apporvatas, add up to give the final result. For example to prepare the offering called Purodasha (Rice flour mixed with ghee and cooked. Similar to arisi uppuma). Here one has to first collect the paddy, husk it with a pestle, crush the grains with a stone etc. Each step involves the chanting of mantras and each step generates a separate Apoorvata. Note the Mimamsakas maintain that each individual Apoorvata does not give “Some punya or minimal punya” and we can see only the combined result as stated in the Veda.